Whatever Happened to Gut Yontif? Why Jews Started Saying Ḥag Same'aḥ

The history of holiday greetings.

Jews in California celebrate Sukkot. Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images.

Jews in California celebrate Sukkot. Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images.

Observation
Oct. 1 2015
About the author

Philologos, the renowned Jewish-language columnist, appears twice a month in Mosaic. Questions for him may be sent to his email address by clicking here.


The eight days of Sukkot (seven in Israel) are, like those of Passover, of two kinds. The first, second, seventh, and eighth days of the holiday (the first and seventh in Israel) resemble the Sabbath in their festive meals with kiddush, the blessing over wine; their additional prayer service of Musaf; and their restrictions on work, travel, commerce, and other things. In Hebrew, they are known as yamim tovim, literally, “good days,” the singular of which is yom tov. The intermediate four days (five in Israel) lack these elements and are called ḥol ha-mo’ed, “the non-sacred part [ḥol] of the festive [literally, “appointed”] time [ha-mo’ed].”

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

More about: Ḥag same'aḥ y'all, Passover, Religion & Holidays, Sukkot